On 21 February 2023, the trial against Mr. Pjetër Shala will open before the Kosovo Specialist Chambers (KSC). Opening statements are scheduled on 21 and 22 February starting at 9:30. The hearings can be followed in the three languages of the court, Albanian, Serbian and English, via the streaming function on the KSC website, with a 45-minute delay.
The initial indictment against Pjetër Shala was confirmed on 12 June 2020 and a corrected confirmed indictment was filed on 1 November 2021.
Mr. Shala is charged on the basis of individual criminal responsibility with four counts of war crimes: arbitrary detention, cruel treatment, torture and murder. The crimes are alleged to have occurred between approximately 17 May 1999 and 5 June 1999 against persons detained at the Kukёs Metal Factory in Albania, allegedly used by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA).
On 21 February, the Presiding Judge will open the trial, have the charges read out to the Accused, inform him of certain rights and obligations, and ask him whether he has understood the indictment and whether he wishes to confirm his earlier plea of not guilty. After this, the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office, Victims’ Counsel and the Defence will each have two hours to deliver their opening statements. The Defence has indicated that Mr. Shala intends to make a brief unsworn statement of approximately five minutes following the Defence opening statement.
So far, eight individuals have been admitted to participate in the proceedings as victims and the application process remains open. Persons who can demonstrate that they have suffered physical, mental or material harm as a direct result of a crime alleged in the corrected confirmed indictment can still apply to participate in the proceedings. This may include both individuals who were directly subjected to harm and individuals who indirectly suffered harm, for example, because they were in a close relationship with a direct victim who was allegedly killed or injured.
The Trial Panel has indicated that the presentation of evidence in the trial, including the calling of witnesses, will begin on 27 March 2023. In their decision, the Trial Panel has scheduled several hearings between March and July, subject to change if necessary.
The date and time for all scheduled public hearings can be found on the court calendar on the website of the KSC. All public hearings are streamed with a delay on the website of the KSC and can be watched in any of the three languages of the court: Albanian, Serbian and English.
A recording of the Opening Statements will be posted on the KSC website. In addition, recordings of public hearings are made available on the KSC YouTube Channel.